Social-Savvy Seniors: Older Adults Reduce Depression Risk With Social Media

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Living with pain can lead to social isolation and loneliness — but according to new research out of the University of Michigan, there’s an app for that.

Using social media like Facebook and Twitter can help seniors counteract the depression risk that comes with pain from chronic conditions or other ailments, the researchers say. The study, published in The Journals of Gerontology: Series B, showed that older adults in pain were less likely to participate in face-to-face social activities that offer mental health benefits.

The study used data from more than 3,400 people 65 and older who received Medicare benefits in 2011. Participants answered questions about their pain, mental health, and social lives. While the study didn’t call out the specific social networks the participants used, 17 percent of them reported using a social media site in the past month.

Connecting with others via social networks may help these seniors maintain psychological well-being and cognitive function when in-person socialization is reduced due to pain, the researchers say.

Source: The Journals of Gerontology: Series B